Dance Floor Power Generation

With concerns about the environment at an all-time high, do we roll up our sleeves and fix the situation or set our fears aside and dance the night away? [Andrew Charalambous], a nightclub owner in from Britain, doesn’t think we should have to choose, so he installed a dance floor that harnesses power from dancers into one of his clubs.

The dance floor uses piezoelectrics to collect the power: as clubgoers dance, electricity-producing crystals under the floor are compressed, producing a small current. The current is collect by embedded batteries, which in turn provide the power to lights, audio systems, and other parts of the club that consume electricity.

It’s certainly an interesting idea, but we’d like to know just how much power these floors are able to generate. Is this a gimmick or a genuinely practical solution? [Charalambous]’s club has adopted the somewhat hokey policy of forcing patrons to sign a pledge to be climate-conscious and do what they can to help the Earth, but that’s a small price to pay to earn green karma and have fun at the same time.

[via io9]

16 thoughts on “Dance Floor Power Generation

  1. this concept has been around for a while. i read about it about a year ago in MIT’s Technology Review. It was developed for places like airports and concert hall floors. It actually does generate a decent amount of electricity! Think of it this way: 500 people * 150 lbs=75000 pounds of mass going up and down hundreds of times… it probably doesnt even make a dent in the multi-kwatt stereo but it would power some light bulbs and stuff at least. Hey, every bit helps

  2. Energy = Force * distance. Seriously, how far is the floor going to deform?

    Ever try to light a light bulb using a generator attached to a bike? 100 watts is no small feat when you’re pouring all your effort into it. (yeah… I know… racers… we’re talking dancers here.)

    Trying to harvest any meaningful energy out of a dance floor stiffer than a water bed will be a joke.

  3. Why not put this stuff underneath highways and let cars generate electricity? Because its too expensive, and if the crystals flex a little, some of a car’s energy will be spent travelling on it. So not so “fuel efficient” as we thought.

  4. the same idea was being looked at to harness some kinetic energy from raindrops by attaching the system to a roof. i’d like to know how much the dancefloor costs to buy and to produce, as this surely wont pay back for a huge amount of time.
    either way, it is a fun idea as a whole club. £10 entry unless you can prove you walked, biked or took a bus, especially as its in london.

    all in all, post could do with some more details, but realistically what can you expect from The Daily Mail and The Evening Standard.
    Interesting use of piezotransducers, so i’d class it as a hack

  5. With that many people walking, do you think there would be enough “up and down”. With enough people the floor would be squashed down from the weight, and probably do little traveling up. If it was flexible, how long would it last, would the electricity saved compensate the repair bill?

  6. do the math: if the floor were to flew even 1/16th of an inch, 75000 lbs / 16 /12=390 foot*pounds. If everyone jumps just once and provides 390 foot*pounds, that in itself won’t provide a whole lot of power. But over the span of a whole night people do a lot of jumping. in other words, the floor doesn’t have to deform 6 inches to provide meaningful power.
    as far as it getting worn out, think of a basketball court. those things are made of wood. they flex a lot, which is why falling on one is not as painful as falling on concrete. how often do basketball floors get replaced? except in the pros, pretty much never. durability would not be an issue either.

  7. Energy isn’t free. Think about the extra effort it takes to walk on soft beach sand, where the grains of sand sink under every step, versus the spring in your step when you walk on a sidewalk. Or how hard it is to ride a bike over soft grass turf as opposed to on hard pavement.

    This dance floor would suck the life out of the dancers. They’d last minutes, maybe one or two dances, and then they’d be tired.

    It’s a stupid idea that’d fail even if it worked.

  8. There’s a point where this “environmental consciousness” is just too much. Has anyone considered how much energy it takes to build this piezoelectric dance floor? Chances are, the energy it generates will take forever to offset the additional energy required to make it. Let’s stick to the basics–use less petroleum for transportation, and find non-CO2-generating power sources (*hint* clean nuclear energy! add the new nuclear waste processing stuff to the chain, build a couple new plants, and a heck of a lot of our CO2 problems are solved! [ignoring the risk of terrorist attacks, of course])

    Seriously, though, I think people are spending too much time on the little things that seem cool and “feel” environmentally friendly but are just too many orders of magnitude smaller than the whole problem that they’re not going to save the world.

  9. I agree with threepointone. A lot of “environmentalists” are very short sighted and have no concept of scale.

    They like to say things like “I measure the daily temperature since december; It increased from -25C to +25C!!! That’s global warming! I estimate that all our oceans will be boiled dry by next december (i.e. 50C/6 months). DOOM!”. Bring up things like “math” or “statistics” and they call you a seal hater or oil baron. 2000 yrs / 5 billion years = god awful sample size.

  10. Actually, it probably wouldn’t sap the energy out of the dancers. A 1/16 flex isn’t that much. You can probably get that already in your house if you have hard wood floors and you jump. In reality, it might actually help the dancers prolong their dancing life. Think of this – most stages today where ballet is performed are made with “sprung” floors – floors that flex a little extra when the dancers land a jump, to act as a shock absorber for their joints, and thus, preventing joint injuries and prolonging their dancing career. The same is true of the floor used for gymnastics floor exercise. It yields to the pressure of landings to cushion joints. To compare this kind of flex to walking in sand at the beach is a bit mismatched. I’ve walked, run, and jumped on a gym floor, and found it no less energy-sapping than a normal floor. Actually, it literally puts a bit of a spring in your step! I’ve also danced on concrete as well as a sprung stage, and let me tell you, the sprung stage allows me to keep dancing a LOT longer.

    I believe the idea behind the floor is to harness the power of the existing flex, and turn it into energy. I’m sure that presently, it is an expensive system, but, this is how technology develops. Hybrid cars were prohibitively expensive to produce only 5 years ago. Now, they are back ordered at many dealerships. Recycling was something that was more expensive than just creating or harvesting/mining new materials for a very long time. It takes pioneers to start using technology, increasing its desirability, for it to be produced on a grander scale, and thus more cost effective. However, have you thought that it might not be all about how much money is saved? Perhaps its about reducing dependence on fossil fuels. The vast majority of electricity produced (at least in the North East, where I’m familiar with the power plants), is produced on diesel generators or coal fired plants. Perhaps the idea is just to reduce a little bit of that fossil fuel usage.

    Just some ideas…

  11. I like this idea. It won’t suck the energy out of the dancers because they’re already deforming the dance floor as it is, and the elastic behavior return much of the energy used – kinetic girl is right in that it would conceivably reduce joint wear and tear for the dancers, as well.

    Fizz Sicks needs to review: E = F x d is the equation for kinetic work – it is not applicable for piezoelectric materials, which polarize and generate electric fields when placed under a changing strain. Over the course of an evening of dozens of 40+ kg people moving up and down for 6-8 hours, that’s a significant amount of deformation and cycling, and it’s already converted to electricity without the hassles of turbines or thermal energy conversion.

    As for the cost of the dance floor, I’m optimistic. For a new club, the floor is going to have to be built to take a beating, anyway, and piezoelectrics tend to be reasonably durable. At any rate, it’s much more “basic” than building nuclear power plants, which have merit as an idea but are unlikely to scale high enough to replace fossil fuels.

  12. “Perhaps the idea is just to reduce a little bit of that fossil fuel usage.”

    This floor may reduce the amount of fossil fuels that would be used to power the club, but energy is needed to make the actual floor, and this energy probably comes from fossil fuels. So, even if the “money” costs to put in the floor are high, so are the “energy” costs. Odds are, the amount of energy put in (most likely by fossil fuels) to produce the tiles won’t add up to the energy saved by installing the piezoelectric floor.

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